QUEEN’S ROAD:For North Carolina-based Kannadati Supriya Desai, it’s time to celebrate. Two of her initiatives turn the corner this year. While the Sampige Kannada Koota, a Kannada cultural organization she founded in North Carolina turns 20, it was 22 years ago on Ganesh Chaturthi day that she launched her Payal Dance Academy.
And as if to commemorate these landmarks, the biennial Navika convention, a meeting of North America’s Kannadigas, will be held at her home town Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend. “Sanjay Shantharam’s seven-member troupe from Bengaulru has just landed here and another five-member troupe from Florida will join 30 performers from North Carolina to present dance dramas at the three-day Navika event,” says Supriya, whose dance academy trains pupils in Bharatanatyam and Kuchupudi.
A disciple of Gurus Narmada and B S Sunanda Devi, Supriya moved to North Carolina with her husband Surendra more than two decades ago. At the weekend’s Navika convention, Supriya and her team will present the Karnataka Kshetra Vybhava, a dance drama where the Sarva Sakshi will enlighten the uninitiated Navya, about the glory of Karnataka. “The dance drama is in praise of Karnataka, beginning from the Vijayanagar kings to the Mysuru maharajas and its people, who are known for their tolerance and spirit of accommodation,” says Supriya, who mentions how the people of Karnataka welcomed great people like Adi Sankara and Ramanuja to their fold. “Krishnadevaraya and the Mysuru kings too were great patrons of art, which flourished during their reigns,” adds Supriya, who is a recipient of the Karnataka Kalashree and Rajyotsava Awards from the state government.
The music for the performance will be handled by famed music director from Bengaluru, Praveen Kumar. “We will also sing the Naada Geethe and the finale will be in the classical style,” says Supriya, who will be helped by 200 volunteers from North Carolina, which will be hosting the Navika event for the first time.
Supriya’s performances and productions include the one at the Festival of India in the former USSR, Karnataka Festival in New Delhi and a documentary on Belur- Halebid, telecast nationally.
A graded artiste on Doordarshan, Supriya has also served on several cultural bodies, including the cultural chair of the Hindu Society of North Carolina and National Cultural advisor for Association of Kannada Kootas of America (AKKA)-2012 Sammelana. She is the founding director and 1st treasurer of AKKA, cultural chair for AKKA sammelanas of Detroit, Orlando, and Baltimore.
Supriya was also awarded for being one of the 10 most prominent Indians in North Carolina and has performed across the US including S.V. Temple of Pittsburgh, Durham Arts Council, and inauguration of NC Museum of History and Duke University Institute of Arts Performance series.